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Split decision

City council passes election payment, pushes legal fees to CCRC

Published: Thursday, Aug. 8, 2013 7:46 a.m. CDT • Updated: Tuesday, Aug. 13, 2013 10:55 a.m. CDT

Osceola City Council approved a motion Tuesday to pay for the city of Osceola’s portion of the May special election fees, while pushing part of that portion on Clarke County Reservoir Commission.

“Our bill was roughly $7,000. I have absolutely no problem with that, and I understand this was the first time that we had balloting which costs more,” said David Walkup, city council board member. “What I do have a question about is $4,358.26 (in) legal fees.”

Money

The city council agreed to have Clarke County Auditor’s Office pay $3,322.55, but took issue with legal fees because the members were unaware the fees had been incurred.

“I feel strongly that it needs to be looked at by the reservoir commission,” Walkup said. “But, who said, who asked for these (legal) counsel fees? And what does the fees include?”

The fees are part of the total cost of a special election in May held for residents of Osceola, Murray and Woodburn to vote to repeal or keep the local option sales tax (LOST). LOST was not repealed, on a vote of 611-119 to keep the tax.

LOST is one of many contributors of payment for a lake project in Clarke County. The project would produce 2.2 million gallons of water per day from an 816-acre lake. The total cost of the project is $37.6 million.

The cost of the special election was $10,000, divided between the cities of Murray, Osceola and Woodburn. Murray’s portion was $1,298.97, Osceola’s was $7,680.81 and Woodburn’s was $647.10.

Issue

During the council’s regularly scheduled meeting, questions were asked about the legal fees.

Walkup said he believes no one did anything wrong in the billing process, but his main question was who asked for the legal counsel.

According to Iowa code, the city is responsible for the costs of any election. Osceola City Council’s issue was the legal fees placed on top of the regular expenses the city neither authorized nor requested. The city’s view is that whoever was responsible for the fees should pay for them.

However, the idea of referring the charges to Clarke County Reservoir Commission was made because the commission is made up of people from the cities of Murray, Osceola and Woodburn, and therefore all three cities would be equally charged.

Walkup motioned to approve to have Clarke County Auditor’s Office pay $3,322.55 regular expenses, and refer the remaining $4,358.26 to CCRC. The board passed the motion unanimously.

In other council business:

• A public hearing was set for Aug. 20 to decide the mending of a 1999 zoning ordinance to allow tattoo studios in the community. The studios must follow state laws and requirements for permits, and cannot be within 800 feet of another studio.

• Questions were raised concerning using another vendor for the city of Osceola’s website, and the council did not pass a motion to switch.

• The council passed a motion to spend no more than $4,000 to create designs for a possible safe room. The use of the safe room will be decided before the city applies for a Federal Emergency Management Agency grant. Depending on the cost of the project and available federal funds, federal money will be used to pay for a large portion of the grant, and the applicant will pay a smaller portion. The state of Iowa may or may not pay a portion of the grant.

• The council approved a 2014 engineering services agreement for the Osceola airport.

• The council approved a $3,000 contribution to the senior center for fiscal year 2014.

• The council approved a draw down for South Fillmore Street to grade the lake sewer.

• The council approved a grant application for $75,000 to repair trails in the area.

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